Debit Card Alternative: PerkStreet Financial Review

November 9, 2011 No Comments »
Debit Card Alternative: PerkStreet Financial Review

You may have heard recently that the big banks are beginning to charge fees on debit cards as a means to recoup lost profits tied to the Dodd-Frank Act.

While the likes of Bank of America and others have since reversed course thanks to a subsequent public outcry, they still aren’t giving you much more than free checking.

So if you are somewhat credit card-averse, meaning you use your debit card for mostly everything each month, you may want to shop around for a better alternative.

Enter PerkStreet Financial

If you aren’t currently receiving cash back or any other type of reward by using your debit card, you may want to take a look at a company named “PerkStreet Financial.”

They offer a unique spin on a free checking account by giving you cash back on everyday purchases, similar to what you’d receive with a cash back credit card.

The difference being that this isn’t a credit card and there is no credit check required to open an account.

So for those of you who aren’t fans of credit cards, but are looking to earn cash back, this account is for you.

How PerkStreet Works

Once you open an account online and a make a deposit (you can make free online transfers between PerkStreet and your bank), you’ll receive a PerkStreet Financial Platinum Debit MasterCard, similar to any other check card you currently carry in your purse or wallet.

The debit card is backed by an FDIC-insured online checking account, which has no annual fee.

The account comes with the following perks:

- Complete online banking platform
- Up to 2% cash back on non-PIN debit card purchases
- Access to 42,000+ free ATMs (gas stations, 7-11 stores, drug stores, etc.)
- Free online bill pay
- Free automated online money transfers from other bank accounts
- Free paper checks
- Postage paid deposit envelopes
- Mail checks to anyone for free, postage paid
- Mobile alerts and 24/7 phone/e-mail customer service
- Zero Liability Policy to ensure you won’t be held liable for any unauthorized transactions

How Much Cash Back Can You Earn with PerkStreet?

cash back

For the first 90 days starting on the day your account is opened, you will receive 2% cash back on all non-PIN debit card purchases.

These are standard swipe purchases where you select “credit” instead of entering your pin or sign a receipt. It’s not a credit transaction, but this makes it non-PIN, which is how you earn cash back.

After those initial 90 days are up, customers with an account balance of $5,000 or more will continue to receive 2% cash back on everything. Those with less than $5,000 will earn 1% cash back.

*PerkStreet calculates your closing balance after all settled transactions from the previous business day, so you’ll need to have some clearance above $5,000 to guarantee you get the full 2% cash back each and every day.

On top of that, you can earn 5% cash back when shopping at certain retailers during select periods, which PerkStreet announces via Twitter (@PerkStreet).

However, the amount you can earn at the 5% cash back bonus rate is limited to $250 per household annually.

But you earn unlimited cash back at the regular, non-bonus rate. So the more you spend, the more you earn.

how much

PerkStreet uses the following example:

Assuming you maintain a daily balance of $5,000, making $601 in weekly non-PIN purchases will earn you $625 in perks annually.

Picture a family using the PerkStreet debit card for most purchases each month.

Not a bad take, especially if you currently pay for your checking account and/or earn nothing back in rewards.

The Bad

It wouldn’t be fair to write this review without talking about the bad qualities as well.

While it’s a pretty straightforward free cash back rewards checking account, there are a few downsides.

First off, if you don’t use your account in a given month, there is a $4.50 inactivity fee. This is obviously a bit annoying, if you happen to not use it for some reason.

However, doing any of the following at least once a month ensures you won’t be assessed a monthly inactivity fee: making a transaction with your debit card, writing a check that clears, using online bill pay, making a withdrawal, or making a deposit to the account.

So it’s pretty easy to avoid that fee.

The other downside is that the rewards are only redeemable for MasterCard® Gift Cards or gift cards at other leading retailers, such as Best Buy, Amazon, etc.

While this is fine, it’d be nice to get straight cash back, instead of fumbling around with another gift card.

All that said, PerkStreet Financial offers a refreshing approach to banking and finally gives customers cash back without the need to open a credit card.

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